Center for National and International Studies
“The number of individuals currently imprisoned for political reasons has risen to 204, showing a notable surge since last April, which is seen as indicative of a new wave of repressions under the authoritarian regime…”
(Lack of ) Human Rights and Freedoms
The request to replace the pretrial detention of Gubad Ibadoglu, the Chairman of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party, with house arrest was brought before the court but was not granted, resulting in his continued detention. Gubad Ibadoglu‘s family expressed concerns about the conditions of his detention. His brother Galib Toghrul stated that Gubad, who suffers from diabetes and requires a lot of water due to his condition, has been deprived of access to quality water and is compelled to use poor tap water. Moreover, the books brought for Gubad Ibadoglu were not allowed to be delivered to him, as the authorities rejected the items during the visit and returned them to his family. Ghalib Togrul criticized the situation and expressed frustration, suggesting that the country is governed by dishonesty and misinformation. Additionally, Gubad Ibadoglu was denied the opportunity to meet with his family again during his ongoing detention.
Afiaddin Mammadov, a young activist, has been arrested in what is perceived as part of the recent wave of repression. Numerous human rights defenders and activists are of the opinion that the Aliyev regime has initiated a fresh crackdown, leading to political arrests and further deterioration of the already restrictive political climate, stifling basic rights and freedoms.
Azerbaijani student Farid Safarli, who was detained in Iran, has been granted until August 3 to present his final statement in court. His mother, Dilara Asgarova, received this information and expressed her concerns that her son might receive a verdict soon. She reported that Farid has been facing significant psychological pressure during the court proceedings. Additionally, there are certain matters for which a lawyer is required but has not been provided, leading to further worries and challenges in his legal representation. According to Dilara Asgarova, they sought advice from Azerbaijan’s consulate in Iran, which was not fruitful. However, they faced challenges in reaching an agreement as the lawyers, who are Iranian Azerbaijanis, demanded exorbitant service fees. The lawyers requested an astonishing $5,000 solely for answering Farid’s phone calls and an incredible amount for participating in the legal process. Dilara Asgarova said that Farid informed her that the lawyer’s ability to influence the court’s decision was minimal, and there was a lack of evidence supporting the charges against him. Given the circumstances, they found it unjustifiable to pay such a significant amount for mere advice. “Moreover, taking into account my inability to pay this amount, Farid and I decided that we cannot hire a lawyer from Iran, therefore should connect Farid with a lawyer in Azerbaijan so that he can call and ask questions before the court hearing”, said Asgarova. Two lawyers in Baku expressed their willingness to assist Farid without any charges. However, the Consulate of Azerbaijan in Iran was not helpful in establishing a telephone connection between Farid and the lawyers, resulting in their inability to provide the intended help. In his conversation with his mom, Farid spoke about his situation with a great deal of tension, expressing how the psychological pressures from the judge, the lack of legal representation, and the absence of anyone from the Azerbaijani side at the court were deeply distressing to him.
The criminal case involving the notorious torture of hundreds of soldiers and officers in Tartar in May 2017, which led to the death of several victims, is still ongoing. Despite being handled by the judges of the Baku Military Court, the trial itself is taking place on the premises of the Sumgayit Court Complex. During the court session held on August 1, several individuals, including Ramil Askerov, the nephew of Najmeddin Sadigov, who served as the Chief of Staff of the Azerbaijan Army for over 27 years, and Jafar Seyidov, the son of the Chairman of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court, were questioned as witnesses. Additionally, two other individuals were also called in for questioning during the same court session. Jafar Seyidov’s name is included in the list of those allegedly involved in the tortures, according to the relatives of the victims who lost their lives. According to the victims‘ statements, Jafar Seyidov, as the former commander of the “Underwater Attack” Marine Special Forces, was directly engaged in the torture, and he was even accused of killing several individuals. However, during his testimony in court, Jafar Seyidov denied any participation in the torture. He claimed that his military forces were present in Tartar solely to provide security and assist in transporting the wounded to the hospital.
Political commentator Arastun Orujlu pointed out that no actions have been taken so far concerning the doctors who were involved in the Tartar massacre. These individuals not only participated directly in the crime in Tartar but also provided false accounts regarding torture, murders, and baseless claims about our soldiers engaging in sexual encounters with Armenians. Despite these serious allegations, no measures have been taken against those doctors to date. Orujlu’s Facebook post: Despite numerous statements from victims and witnesses regarding these and other critical facts, it is surprising that doctors and heads of medical institutions, who are expected to uphold a humane profession, have not been involved in the investigation for unknown reasons. However, these individuals made their statements on specific television channels, namely LAF TV and Khural TV, which should be enough to investigate. On the other hand, although there have been numerous inspections in the Ministry of Health system regarding financial matters, supply, and technical support, serious cases of embezzlement, looting, and corruption within the General Department of Medicine, which was previously led by the criminal Natig Aliyev, remain unaddressed. One can only hope that the ongoing investigation will soon shed light on these matters.”
According to his lawyer, Elkhan Aliyev, a member of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, who was arrested on false charges, is currently suffering from severe medical conditions that jeopardize his life. As a result, it is essential to transfer him to the central hospital of the penitentiary service for proper medical care and treatment, said the lawyer.
On July 31, the “Freedom for Azerbaijan Political Prisoners” Union released an updated list featuring the names of 204 individuals currently imprisoned for political reasons. This number marks an increase from the previous list published on April 20, which included 182 names. The latest update comprises 34 new names, including prominent figures such as Gubad Ibadoglu, the chairman of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party, economist Nazim Beydamirli, a former deputy, public figure, and businessman, Elkhan Aliyev, a member of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, and several believers arrested between April and July on charges of drug trafficking. As a result, the total count of believers who were arrested for political reasons is now 147 individuals. The union has categorized the 204 political prisoners into 7 different groups, including members of political parties, journalists and media representatives, and activists.
Governance and Corruption
According to the Azadlig newspaper, the recent legal amendment has left many couriers unemployed. The change in the law required motorcycle drivers to approach the General State Traffic Police Department to verify the documents of their motorcycles. As a result, many couriers’ motorcycles have been confiscated. Consumer rights advocates argue that the new amendment is intended to establish a monopoly over courier services.
President Ilham Aliyev has given his approval for the amendment of the Code of Administrative Offenses, which introduces new fines for individuals involved in buying and selling goods through the credit system. This system allows low-income families to make long-term payments with limited installment options while purchasing products. The implementation of this new law is anticipated to have a significant impact on the economy, particularly affecting the less privileged segments of society.
August 4, 2023